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Tox

And now we’ve reached the point for you to learn that in the Russian navy military chemists are called ‘tox.’

But why? you might ask.

Well, the Russian navy would answer, because they poison people.

As a chemist, I was responsible for training my crew to use a POD - the Portable Oxygen Device designed to isolate the respiratory organs from the effects of an unfriendly environment.

Early PODs were nicknamed “Preventative-Oxygen Devices” due to a slight glitch in their design; it seems the POD’s oxygen-release device, which in theory should have stimulated the device’s regeneration of oxygen, sometimes caused this oxygen to come out in a prolonged violent burst.

I only ever saw one person who was able to last more than two seconds under these conditions. It was our Lieutenant Commander Utochkin, head of the Special Services department.

I’d warned him beforehand that upon deployment of the device there might be some complications and that the given situation was probably not the most appropriate for demonstrating antiquated ideals of military stoicism.

“If you wanna live, you gotta take it like a man!” he said.

I couldn’t think of anything to say in response. Utochkin turned the device on and gave me a big thumbs-up in a sign that everything was going as smooth as silk. Whenever I see that things are going “as smooth as silk” I start my stopwatch and take a reading.

After a full five minutes had passed, I looked up from the stopwatch at Lieutenant Commander Utochkin. His eyes were glazed and hollow.

Still another ten seconds passed before Utochkin finally smacked his lips and unscrewed his mouth. A stream of smoke spiraled out.

“Hey, fuck this,” he said, the end of his phrase hitting the highest of C’s. “I can’t take it any more!”

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